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J Hepatol. 1991 Nov;13(3):347-50.

Serological and histological aspects of hepatitis C virus infection in alcoholic patients.

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  • 1Istituto di Clinica Medica e Gastroenterologia, Universit√† di Bologna, Italy.


The recent cloning of the genome of hepatitis C virus (HCV) has allowed the detection of antibodies to HCV (anti-HCV) in human serum. The presence of serum antibodies to HCV often indicates active infection with HCV. We have assessed the serological and histological features in a group of alcoholic patients with chronic liver disease and have evaluated the possible etiologic role of HCV infection in the development of liver damage. Serum samples and liver biopsy specimens were obtained from 41 consecutive patients, all having a definite history of alcohol abuse and evidence of chronic hypertransaminasemia. Fifteen patients (37%) were positive for anti-HCV by ELISA, and 13 (86.6%) of them were also positive by RIBA. Eleven of these patients had histologic features of chronic active hepatitis (CAH), a lesion which is not known to be induced by excessive alcohol intake. No other possible causes of CAH were found, and CAH was not present in any of the anti-HCV negative patients. In patients with CAH, mean AST to ALT ratio was less than 1 (0.6), a finding which is characteristic of viral rather than alcoholic chronic liver disease. In conclusion, our study suggests that sporadic hepatitis C virus infection plays an etiologic role in the development of chronic active liver disease in a subgroup of alcoholic patients.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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